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To help our brain span match our lifespan, we need a focus on brain health. Increasingly, research shows ways to prevent or reverse mild cognitive impairment and improve brain health. If we each do more to keep our brain healthy, with our doctor’s help, we will be better prepared as individuals and as a healthcare system to fight cognitive decline.

Our host Meryl Comer will sit down with healthcare/aging expert Anne Tumlinson. She has authored recommendations for building a system of brain health care, including a yearly brain health check-up.

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UsAgainstAlzheimer's is grateful for the support of Sunrise Senior Living in this Talk, which was produced for Sunrise families, team members, and its community partners.

Emerging science now reveals that proactive prevention of and maintenance for overall health concerns can help yield positive effects for a resistant and resilient brain. As we continue to learn, more evidence demonstrates that focus on our overall health—including brain health across the lifespan—will create a stronger foundation and better resistance to cognitive impairment as we age.

No longer a concern simply for later years, proactive brain health across the lifespan requires understanding, attention, and commitment to our body’s most powerful organ. We need to know how to empower ourselves, our families and our communities to keep our brains healthy from the earliest years. UsA2 is here to help share this knowledge and understanding, to combat Alzheimer’s from every angle and to continue the urgent work that will ultimately bring about a cure.

Dr. Neelum Aggarwal of Rush University and the American Medical Women’s Association describes ways that individuals, families, and communities can promote their cognitive health, helping to reduce their risk for diseases like Alzheimer’s. Moderating the conversation is Jill Lesser, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s board member and President of its WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s network.

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What if a blood test or other simple exam could one day detect Alzheimer’s? Scientists are in pursuit of ways to test for Alzheimer’s by measuring a biomarker—a substance in the body that may indicate or rule out the presence of a disease. This could make Alzheimer’s diagnosis more common in the future, so doctors might be able to intervene before symptoms appear. Where do we stand on developing such a test, and what might the implications be for those who take it?

In this Alzheimer’s Talks, we heard more about these questions. Scott Lewis, Director, Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnostic Pathway at Biogen, works with a range of stakeholders to understand and address the current and future challenges associated with the screening and detecting Alzheimer’s disease. He described techniques used today to diagnose Alzheimer’s and what we might expect in the future. Melissa Bianchi is an expert in patient protections at the law firm Hogan Lovells. She discussed how families might prepare for receiving a biomarker confirmation of Alzheimer’s in the early stages of the disease.

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Research has linked head injury and a variety of mental health conditions to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Given veterans’ exposure to traumatic brain injury, PTSD, blast-induced neurotrauma, successive concussion syndrome, and depression, what do they and their families need to know about Alzheimer’s? And what’s currently done to help the nearly 50% of our veterans age 65 or older, who face an even greater risk of Alzheimer’s?

With Veterans Day approaching, two experts from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) joined us. Dr. Tom Edes oversees Geriatrics & Extended Care Operations, for VA Clinical Operations. Dr. Alex Chiu leads VA’s portfolio of Alzheimer’s disease research.

Dr. Edes discussed how VA is addressing this looming crisis and some of the resources that VA offers to veterans who are facing this disease. Dr. Chiu shared on overview of current and recent VA research into Alzheimer’s as it affects our nation’s veterans. This health crisis is affecting our veterans at an alarming rate, when they have already given so much in service to our country. 

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Prof. Claude Wischik, of Tau Rx Therapeutics and the University of Aberdeen, describes his 30-year quest to study the role of tau in Alzheimer's and to pursue a treatment to fight the tau tangles that form in the brain in Alzheimer's. How has tau research evolved, and what is the current state of knowledge?

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Two renowned Alzheimer's researchers and a clinical trial participant share their top takeaways from the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, the largest gathering of Alzheimer’s researchers from across the world. They shared insights related to Alzheimer’s disparities impacting communities of color and about patient-centered research.

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Is there anything each of us can do to protect our cognitive function or even reduce our risk of Alzheimer’s? Just as we have found ways to reduce heart disease risk, researchers increasingly think there may be steps we can take to ward off Alzheimer’s. Globally renowned researcher Dr. Laura Baker of the Wake Forest School of Medicine discusses the U.S. POINTER study, which she is leading and which is enrolling participants now. This exciting study will test whether changing one’s lifestyle involving physical exercise, diet and intellectual and social stimulation can protect cognitive function in adults 60-79 years old who may be at increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia. The U.S. POINTER study is part of a global collaboration that will build on similar studies in Finland (the FINGER study) and elsewhere and that will include other countries in the near future.

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Does research into new Alzheimer's treatments reflect what matters most to those living with the disease and their care partners? When new drugs become available, will they address the symptoms and make the changes in people’s lives that are most important to them? Researcher Brett Hauber of RTI Health Solutions discusses the new What Matters Most Study. UsAgainstAlzheimer’s and its partners are launching this study to learn what matters most to those living with Alzheimer’s, so that insights from those with Alzheimer's and their care partners are considered as drugs are developed, approved, and brought into patient’s lives.

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Are depression and anxiety risk factors for Alzheimer’s – or is it the other way around? The better we understand the link between psychiatric symptoms and dementia, the more we can improve brain health. Harvard/Massachusetts General's Dr. Jennifer Gatchel discusses her groundbreaking research into the links between depression, anxiety and Alzheimer’s.

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How can texting help fight Alzheimer's? Brainworks, led by Dr. Karen Lincoln, is the first study of its kind, using daily, tailored texting to boost knowledge about Alzheimer’s and to change views toward clinical trials among African-Americans. Stephanie Monroe, Executive Director, AfricanAmericansAgainstAlzheimer's, talks with Karen Lincoln, PhD, Director, Hartford Center of Excellence in Geriatric Social Work; Associate Professor, School of Social Work; and Founder, Advocates for African American Elders, University of Southern California.

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